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Valley church saying 'thank you' during Teacher Appreciation Week

PHOENIX -- This week is Teacher Appreciation Week, and one church is doing something extra to say thank you to Valley teachers.

"It's probably hard to overstate how important all of our schools and educators are, and we just wanted to take some time to appreciate them," said Ashley Wooldridge, the executive pastor of Christ Church of the Valley.

The church has regular attendance of about 21,000 people a week at its five campuses Valleywide. Wooldridge said that they are showing their appreciation by sending out $25 Target store gift cards to 18,000 school employees at 227 local schools.

"We're just happy to do it," Wooldridge said. "We have a church of a lot of people who love to pour into schools, and they're all contributing to make this happen."

Wooldridge added that CCV spent $450,000 to buy the cards at Target.

Churchgoers are then buying the cards from CCV and sending them to teachers and school employees along with personalized thank you notes.

"If we can say thank you to even one person that hasn't received a thank you this whole past year, that, in and of itself, is worth it," said Wooldridge.

About the Author

Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I am married to my wife Rene', who is a librarian in the Washington school district. During free time, I may be found playing basketball in the driveway with my son, Devin. He's also keeping me busy with school, Little League, and playing in chess tournaments around the Valley.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: Doug Oldham gospel concert in the 1970s at the old East High School in Phoenix.

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Northern Hills Community Church in Phoenix. We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.


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